I give you 10 reasons why I think everyone should have a 50mm lens (The Nifty Fifty) in their camera bag. All the photos in this blog were taken by me using a 50mm lens. If you don’t want to read this top 10 list, just watch my video at the bottom of the page.
Read this list and see if you agree. Why not post your favourite 50mm photo in the comments below.
1. 50mm Lenses Are Cheap
2. 50mm lenses are Prime
This means there is no zoom (fixed focal length). Being a prime a 50mm lens has less glass elements meaning the light has to pass through less things before it hits the sensor meaning less things to distort the image. This ultimately means crisp clean images. Primes are also great for Video as they are sharp and fast (low f-stop).
3. 50mm lenses Are Sharp
Because they are primes and have a pretty large aperture (low f-stop) it means they are sharp, you really will not find a sharper lens for $125. We all want pin sharp and these lenses stay pretty sharp all the way to the corners whilst the vignetting is usually pretty good too.
4. 50mm Lenses Are Light and Small
This makes the lens ideal for street photography, leave it on your camera and it won’t add much weight to the body and definitely won’t add much size. Also when travelling this is a great compact lens, I love it for this. I sometimes want wider for travel stuff but it is great and if I loose it or break it, well its not much to replace.
5. 50mm Lenses Have Great Bokeh
As it has a shallow depth of field with between 5 and 8 aperture blades the background blur will be nice and buttery (official terminology). You can get a lot better Bokeh with other lenses and focal lengths but that is going to take another article to get into that. Just know that the bokeh is pretty nice with this lens.
6. 50mm Lenses Will Make You A Better Photographer
This is not a guarantee but because there is no zoom you have to get actively involved with the framing. Learning this skill is vital so that you make better choices when you have other lenses on your camera. Also it gives you a reference. You will learn to notice the difference, look and feel between a 20mm and an 80mm lens rather than just knowing they are different lenses. This knowledge will help you choose a lens rather than just guess and stick whatever lens on your camera and once learned you cannot unlearn it. Also, as it has a wide aperture range (usually f1.8 – 22) it means you can get extremely creative.
7. 50mm Lenses Are Similar to the Human Eye
Basically what this means is that what you see in the photo s similar to what we see with our eyes. A 22mm lens will capture more than what we can naturally see and a 200mm wll only capture a small portion of what we see. Basically this means this lens will render natural looking shots which is why it is used a lot in street photography.
8. 50mm Lenses Are Great For Portait Photography
Please don’t hate me for saying this. I don’t actually use my 50mm for portraits much as I shoot on a full frame (35mm) sensor and think it distorts the face too much. However if you are shooting with a crop sensor then this lens is great. With the crop factor this len will become about an 80-90mm lens making it ideal for portraits. If you have a full frame camera I would suggest using a different lens unless you are shooting children then this can look ok. However pull back to 3/4 or full body and this lens is great.
9. 50mm Lens Should Be Your 1st ‘Non Kit’ Lens
A kit lens is cheap, does a lot but does not give you great results. You usually get plenty of zoom but the lens it not very fast (usually something like f/ 3.5-5.6). This means you don’t have much creative control and also they are terrible in low light. If you only have kit lenses then you are probably only dabbling with photography and don’t want to spend hundreds or thousands on new lenses. This lens will get your creative juices flowing and you will start to see what your DSLR camera is capable of.
10. Everyone Else Has A 50mm Lens (Or Two)
Ok so I ran out by the time I got to 10. But everyone does have one and why, well because its how most of us start and its hard to let this little baby go. I still use the first one I baught 8 years ago and love it. it sits in my bag and doesn’t come out much but when I need it there is nothing more comforting than putting this little baby on my camera.
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Watch the Video below
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